Defender George Pilkington has spoken of his surprise to feature our match with Plymouth Argyle at One Call Stadium last Saturday.
The 31-year-old, who was on loan at Forest Green Rovers, was recalled by boss Paul Cox just hours before our meeting with The Pilgrims.
Despite a 1-0 defeat, Pilkington made a fine impression on his return to our side, and is eager to hold onto his place for tomorrow’s match at Southend United.
He said: “I had literally just got down to Forest Green on Friday for a normal days training, and I got the call to say I had been recalled by the manager.
“Seeing as I was already down there, it was just a case of doing a light training session and preparing to play for Mansfield on the Saturday.
“The game doesn’t change regardless of where you’re at, so it was just a matter of me preparing for a game as I normally would do.
“It was a nice surprise for the manager to ring up, recall me, and to then get a start on Saturday was fantastic.”
Pilkington continued: “Having not played much football last season, I need to get myself match fit and play a lot more football. That’s what I’m looking to do.
“I can feel myself getting better and getting back to my old self, just through games and match fitness – there’s no substitute for that unfortunately.
“[Against Plymouth] I thought that the back three, considering it was put together quickly, performed well, and it was just disappointing that we didn’t get a result.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve played for Mansfield and I didn’t want to let the opportunity go by the wayside, so I wanted to put in a good performance.”
He added: “I’m just looking forward now. I’m taking it one day at a time and one game at a time. I know I’m coming up the latter years of my career and I want to be playing regularly to keep myself fit.
“Hopefully I’ll be in the frame for tomorrow night’s game away at Southend United, which will be a very tough game.”
Pilkington also admits that he has learned an awful lot in the past year, during his lengthy spell out of our team.
He continued: “Through not playing much in the last season, I’ve learned lots more about myself both mentally and on the football side of things too.
“I’ve had a lot of time to reflect over the summer period, and I’ve probably learned more in the past year, than in most years of my career.
“I know where I want to be and what I want to do, so it’s only up to me now to go and achieve it.”
The defender featured eight times during his two-month loan spell at the New Lawn Stadium, and has much praise for the Gloucestershire club.
He added: “The club itself is run like a Championship one. It’s professional from top to bottom and the chairman has a sustainable vision, which echoes throughout all areas of the company.
“It’s impressive what they’re trying to do, but things haven’t quite gone right on the pitch, so they’re looking to appoint a new manager.
“I’m sure there are a lot of names in the hat, who would jump at the opportunity to take the club forward.”